WELCOME TO SAMARITANA GAMBIA
Here we will briefly tell you about Sexual Abuse in The Gambia.
We’ll tell you of the Rescuing & Rehabilitation that God has enabled us to do. We will respond to the obvious questions of ..
“What help do you need?” and “What are your specific vacancies?”
Sadly most men world wide, treat women and children as somehow inferior, and they end up treating them as playthings to be ordered about,to wait on them, and if desirable, to be used for sexual pleasure.
The Britannia, a girl market: One of many in The Gambia, along with plenty of Brothels especially for the black and the white market.
The Curtain of Silence over what is happening in local extended family compounds, was cemented by the Despot Yaya Jammeh into a rock solid Culture of Silence where people were very frightened to cause any fuss about anything, least they get a visit from his cronies.
Then there are the white compounds too, where a few pound will shut peoples mouths, not because of the level of poverty, but because of black greedy uncaring hearts
Whether Christian or Muslim, anything that might shame the family, is absolutely taboo, no matter what wrong was done by a family member.
The Ummah & Church family come before shame embarrassment & scandal
Therefore, sexual abuse, especially of children, is almost totally uninhibited. The girls who ‘talk’ to us through our use of an Anon Question box, most often have absolutely no-one they can be brave enough to tell. No-One!
Indeed through our contact with many facets of Gambian society (school students, street kids, women, anonymous questions boxes, facebooking, returnees, police etc) it appears it is “just the way it is” in the whole society.
This is aided by the near total corruption within the civil service, municipal and governmental departments where the going rate, for dropping a case is about D30,000 (dalasi, about 500 pounds/$600 or Eu550). Where officials will try to persuade a parent not to take a case any further, or the Alkala will cover up.
“Daughter, we are hungry, go and see your uncle, ask him for rice, be nice to him….” knowing that uncle likes girls to sit on is knee and ….. him “fondle” them. This very horrible scenario is very common. Yet we who do not go hungry cannot know the pressures on mothers or children.
“If you would like me to sponsor you through University, lets have lunch & talk about it…… etc.” (Law Lecturer to a Law Student, and now a Lawyer herself, who will not speak about it and stop it happening to others)
On top of this is the whole sex tourist industry, plus all the local brothels too (the brothel rate for locals is D25-50, less than a pound, about $1, or less than an Euro. Ofcourse, sadly and sickeningly, it can be even cheaper too.
Then, there is the infamous Senegambia Tourist Strip Area, which abounds with young women, boys, locals and others, hustling their bodies.
The Other postcard shows an old white man with a very young Gambian girl also on her cellphone, presumably talking with this fella here, NOT an unlikely scenario. Both sights are a daily occurrence here, unfortunately.
The Senegambia Strip is which is where Samaritana was born………
2015 Samaritana’s First Solution
Samaritana built Shalom Cafe, right next to the infamous Senegambia Strip, where those hustling in that district were invited to come, where there was no pimps, bumsters or alcohol.
There they felt safe and responded to the various opportunities we made available as alternative lifestyles.
We then moved to run 4 week Preventative Programmes in Schools, led by two Local Interns (one of whom is now Samaritana’s Team Leader!)
We also go into any other groups we can reach, e.g. churches, or under community trees, etc.
So, the Team Leader is a 26 year old local young mum, herself a victim of a predators actions. She speaks four languages and as a Muslim Background Believer, she is is still very much one of the locals, where 90% of the population call themselves Muslims (about 5% call themselves Christians and another 5% are animists).
We use an anonymous question box in these presentations and this allows girls and in some cases young men, who tell us about their sexual abusive circumstances. “What do you do if your teacher wants to touch you” was the very first question we were asked. No doubt that teacher has been transfered enabling him to continue abusing girl after girl. Underage pregnancies by teachers are very common in The Gambia, Indeed, one of these young women became at one stage, a Samaritana team member
In addition to practical help, we ofcourse, pray for all of them, believing that only a relationship with Jesus, can in the end, bring them redemption, healing, health, hope, confidence and happiness and true freedom.
We are very careful not to proselytise at all,as those we come across, were largely born powerless, and are still very vulnerable.
From that time Samaritana evolved a dedicated Safe Centre where sexual abuse survivors come (having been uncovered or discovered in our excursions into schools and the streets of the urban sprawl known as the Kombo. There they are receiving support to go to school, literacy help one on one, and small group rehab therapies.
We have one on-call non-Gambian Psychologist for Trauma Counseling, (as there are no Gambian trained psychologists).
Survivors are primarily offered safety and love. Their families are carefully supported too, but as in one case, a parent is terrified that her spouse will divorce them if they find out what happened to the very young daughter
Rehabilitation occurs via various form of therapy including Dance, Puppets, Art, Drama and Occupational Therapy (where survivors can earn dalasi making Recyclable Sanitary Kits).
Gardening had also acted as therapy for women and girls;
Our aim was to grow what we eat and eat what we grow.
[picture was taken at Shalom Cafe where a Social Work Student on placement, helped establish the bed ready for planting]
Yet, we need to be doing more!
To fulfill this mission, we need more “labourers in the field”; people with real servant hearts, who are not afraid to do anything, go anywhere for Jesus. Currently there are only 6 of us! That is at least, 6 too few!
We need to be covering more of the country, not just the Urban sprawl of Serekunda and the greater Kombo of The Gambia.
We need people, more than we need money!
Our most urgent need is Interns… Keep reading….
[The young girl on the left, is typical of many school aged girls out trying to help their family bring n enough money to eat and pay the rent; anything else, often including schooling, is a luxury]
“Much is required from those to whom much has been given and even more will be demanded from those to whom even more has been given” Luke Chapter 12, verse 48. NRSV Bible. It is our “calling” scripture.
How about you? Would you like to help?
“What sort of Help do you need?” “What Vacancies do you have?” We are so glad you are asking those questions!
Samaritana Gambia exists to
To Reach and meet the women who want to leave prostitution.
To especially connect with teenagers, and even younger, to explain to them what Sexual Abuse is and to enable them to speak up against the culture of silence that surrounds such horrible offences.
Therefore we need the following people. It can be for Short Term or Long term, but we need you now!
- Psychologist / Counselors preferably specialising in Sexual Abuse Trauma.
- An extra Coordinator for Samaritana.
- An Outreach Team in Bars.
- An extra Operations Manager for Samaritana.
- Interns in Residential Youth Work, Publicity, Entrepreneurship, Teaching (Basic English and Math’s) Therapy, and yes, Worship!
- “WHAT TYPE OF APPLICANTS?” Short Term Volunteers / Gap Year Students and ESPECIALLY Dedicated young Gambians who have a heart for their fellow Gambians and are prepared to do anything, go anywhere for Jesus!
So, could God be calling you, to go to where the need (proportionally) is far far greater than where-ever you now are?
If the answer is indeed “YES!”, then tell Him that you hear His YES, you will obey and, you will ask Him for the guidance of The Holy Spirit, which you will most definitely need.
Then take the first step; Knock on our door…..
Contact us right now, begin the discussion, asking the questions, seeking, all the time, seeking His Will, not yours.
[Be aware, if you are primarily after a job because you need the money, then don’t bother knocking].
Your response to what you have read here, must first and foremost, be a heart tug, followed by an awareness that God might just be nudging you to apply to be part of Samaritana.